There’s a Mother’s Day mystery afoot at St. John Nepomucene Church. For the past 69 years, flowers have shown up at the statue of the Blessed Virgin courtesy of an anonymous donor. Though parishioners enjoy the sight of the lovely flowers, no one has figured out who the donor is.
Karen Mulry, a parishioner who is retired from her family’s florist business, said every year an envelope with a one-sentence letter and a check arrives at Reynebeau Floral in Little Chute on the Thursday or Friday before Mother’s Day. “It’s always written the same and says, ‘Dear Florist, would you please put the annual purple orchid by the Blessed Virgin again this year? Thank you very much.’ The first check was for $2 and each year, it increased a little,” Mulry said.
“I remember that first one because it was my first Communion that year,” she said. That was 1947.
Her parents, Jack and Viola Reynebeau, owned and operated the florist business that they had started in 1935. “My mother did the orchid as a wrist corsage because the arms of the statue were extended,” Mulry continued. “After the church was remodeled, the statue was hung on a wall. Now we do a pot of flowers to set at Mary’s feet.”
As the years went on, Mulry said the employees always anticipated the letter and made sure to save one or two purple orchids for the Blessed Virgin. “You know, we don’t always have purple orchids on hand,” she said. “Years ago, we always had orchids for corsages. But today people don’t use corsages as much. Now, we specially order them. I would ask our supplier for two purple orchids. The supplier asked why because no one wears corsages anymore. I told him it was for the Blessed Virgin and he would give us two of his best, biggest orchids.”
As the pastors changed, Mulry said, she always made sure to tell them about the mysterious flower request “so they would know why it just showed up” each Saturday before Mother’s Day.
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